You’ve probably already read my earlier posts; Woah my head is spinning! and Living with Autism. If not, they’re on here. But in short, Im autistic, and my head is very overprotective of me, and going outside is like red alert. This post is my answer to how I cope with it really.
In terms of a me update, I am fine. I was able to go to a pub with friends on a busy night, I stayed home on my own overnight, walked on my own to the village, and went to my Grandad’s on the train. Not bad. For this post, I want to discuss how I deal with my anxiety with the following methods.
STEP ONE: Lowering the level of anxiety I have
The first way of coping with my anxiety is the easiest, in that I actively try and lower it before I go places. I do this with the power of medication. As meantioned, I am on Sertraline, which is a pill that acts as anti anxiety, and as an anti depressant (the latter is its main job). I take one pill every night before I go to bed, and that acts as a way to lower the anxiety I have during a day. This does not get rid of it completely, but it does lower the threshold I deal with on a daily basis.
STEP TWO: Preparing to go out
Another way I deal with this is that I now am required to go on a walk everyday, regardless of weather or any other excuses (except leg amputation). If I am going on a short walk, I am usually fine, though if I am out for a longer period, I usually take the following things with me:
- A bottle of water- If my stomach pains start, I usually have water with me to soothe my stomach, and stop that symptom. I usually get a big bottle, one of those 750ml bottles they sell in shops, they usually fit into a big coat pocket.
- Chewing gum- Its minty fresh, I focus on chewing it, and it reinforces the soothing I do to my body. I always get the 60 piece boxes, as I chew a lot of gum in general, and they’re easier to refill.
- iPod- Music acts as a sensory distraction for me, so that I am not focusing on the things outside that worry me, like gangs on bikes, dogs, and babies. I usually wear my wireless headphones with it.
- Stress ball- I always hold onto it, again acting as a sensory distraction. I usually end up squeezing it to the rhythm of how I walk, and in turn that is influenced by whatever song comes up on the iPod.
Another coping mechanism I use is Loperamide Hydrochloride, which is another tablet that you can research yourself. I am using this less though as it isn’t meant to be a long term coping mechanism, so if you have issues I wouldn’t advise it for long term use, but for a time, it aided me in some of my symptoms.
STEP THREE: On the battlefield
When out and about, I usually start off using one or two coping mechanisms, usually the iPod and the stressball. I drink sips of water when I am walking, to make sure I am hydrated, and I am not worrying so much. There’s no order to how I use them, but I usually use the iPod, and another thing, such as the stress ball.
What also helps me is if I see someone I know, I usually will talk to them, or have a chat with them if they approach me, which helps put me at a bit more ease. I always try to walk in more open spaces, like by main roads or in town centres. I dislike small, crowded places so I avoid them where possible. Other coping strategies I have used have included 5 senses exercises, where I think about what I can see, taste, feel, smell, hear etc. And a more recent thing I have started to do is that I rank how my anxiety is at a given time. I do this ranking it from 1-10, with 1 being the lowest (Slight excitement or nervousness) and 10 being the highest (panic attacks). In recent days, the highest I have been is a 5, and that is my average when I am at my worse. I treat anxiety as a speedometer in that respect, the higher it is, the faster you’re going down a bad road. Before I used coping mechanisms, I was reaching 7’s at my worse, so I know what I am doing is working for me.
The point of this post, and my previous posts, is to offer insights in how I am feeling and coping, in the hopes that it may help people. Of course, all these methods are mine. I do not know how bad you may be, but this post hopefully gives people ideas. If you have recieved ideas from it, please let me know.